The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 came into effect in October 2010 replacing all existing anti-discrimination legislation including the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. The Act covers all aspects of school life including: how a school treats its pupils and prospective pupils, and their parents and carers; how it treats its employees; and how it treats members of the local community.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published a technical guidance document to help schools protect their pupils from discrimination and promote equality. The guidance is very detailed and clearly explains how those working in Schools can create an environment where pupils of all backgrounds and abilities are able to learn and progress.

The guidance is very detailed and clearly explains how those working in Schools can create an environment where pupils of all backgrounds and abilities are able to learn and progress.

The technical guidance covers:

  • Overview of the schools provisions of the Act
  • Admissions
  • Providing education and access to benefits, facilities and services for pupils
  • Exclusions from school
  • Key concepts
  • Reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils
  • Positive action
  • Dispute resolution and enforcement
  • Exceptions

Technical Guidance For Schools (PDF, 975KB)

Protected Characteristics

The Equality Act protects the same groups of people that were covered by previous equality legislation. However, these groups are now referred to as ‘protected characteristics’. The following is a list of the protected characteristics that must be covered by schools:

  • Age* (only as an employer; this does not apply to pupils)
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or Belief
  • Sex (previously referred to as gender)
  • Sexual Orientation

*The protected characteristic of ‘Age’ applies to schools as employers, but not with regard to the treatment of pupils or prospective pupils.

The Protected characteristic document (PDF, 57KB) highlights the key changes for each protected characteristic as a result of the Equality Act 2010.

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